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October 28, 2014 at 11:58 AM

Tacoma teens charged with ‘funny’ school-shooting threats

Two Franklin Pierce High School students were arrested and charged with felony harassment for making threats in two separate incidents on Monday, according to school officials and prosecutors.

Willie Painter, a spokesman for the Franklin Pierce School District in Tacoma, said the first arrest occurred during the school day when two students were allegedly overheard making threats against school administrators. Both of the male students were put on an emergency expulsion and one, a 16-year-old, was arrested and charged with felony harassment, Painter said.

When school let out in the afternoon, social-media chatter exploded with information and speculation about threats to the school, Painter said.

Around 7 p.m., the school district began receiving reports about a student who claimed he intended to shoot up the school on Tuesday and the sheriff’s office was called, said Painter.

According to charges filed by the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the teen, also 16, is alleged to have tweeted, “attention! attention! It’s me that is shooting up the school tomorrow so be prepared and goodnight! I’m shooting up the school bro! sshh.”

When interviewed by police, the teen said he is the class clown and thought that in the midst of all the Twitter and Facebook chatter about Friday’s fatal shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, it would “be funny to say he was going to shoot up his school,” according to prosecutors.

Police said the teen’s stepfather has firearms, but they are stored in a safe.

Painter said that so far it does not appear that any of the threats were credible. Nevertheless, he said, the incidents contain  important lessons for students and parents. “Social media requires great responsibility on the part of users and threats are a very serious matter and can go beyond school discipline,” he said.

Painter said attendance was lower than usual on Tuesday as some parents chose to keep their children home. He said all absences were excused.

Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Tuesday. “We take any threat to the safety of our children seriously. While this may have been ill-conceived humor, it’s still a crime.”

Comments | More in Education, The Blotter | Topics: Franklin Pierce High School, prank, school shooting

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